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VINE VOICEon August 31, 2012
When it comes to speech recognition software, Dragon is pretty much the only game in town. Ever since Dragon Naturally Speaking version 9, the accuracy of voice recognition has been very good.

The upgrade from Dragon Naturally Speaking version 9 to 10 improved the accuracy of voice recognition perceptibly; and even version 11 improved the voice recognition noticeably. But Nuance disabled the use of Dragon Naturally Speaking version 11 in Electronic Medical Record programs. They want to sell, Nuance Dragon Medical Practice Edition 1 or 2, several times more expensive to the healthcare market. And the irony of all this is that despite costing several times more, Dragon Medical 11 (Dragon Medical Practice 1) does not work any better for electronic medical records than Dragon Medical 10. You just feel being ripped off!

Having used Dragon Naturally Speaking version 12 for 4 weeks now, I think version 12 is actually a DOWNGRADE and not an upgrade because of following reasons.

1. SLOWER: I have been spending a lot of time watching the spinning dragon in the correction window on Intel i3 processor 10 Gb RAM computer. Sometimes 6 seconds for a correction.

2. BUGGY: The Dictation Box keeps popping up in a variety of programs even when you are directly dictating into the program and do not want it. For example, you are dictating a document in Microsoft Word and suddenly the Dictation Box pops up and all dictation starts going to the box instead of Microsoft Word document.

3. Many of the old formatting commands do not work, and you have to learn a whole set of formatting commands all over again. Nuance is claiming lot of new formatting commands but so far I have seen very few new usable commands.

4. It does not work for Electronic Medical Record programs. And also functions poorly in browser and Citrix based programs. That is where Dictation Box is useful.

5. It does not work on Remote Desktop programs like RDC, Logmein, RDW, JumpDesktop etc.

6. Keeps crashing in Windows 8 and does not close, when you exit the program. Releasing a program in late 2012, tailgated by Windows 8 release, that does not work well with Windows 8.

UPGRADE? Huh?

But version 12 has a few practical advantages.

1. The repertoire of recording devices has increased.

2. You can add multiple audio sources to your profile, instead of having to create multiple profiles.

3. Tutorial is nice, as of now only text, and no videos.

According to Nuance, the accuracy has improved by 20% but the improvement is hard to perceive in day to day use because Version 12 is slower. Slight improvement in accuracy for a slower program is not a trade off to call an upgrade. Version 12 is supposed to have social media commands, but I have not used those.

Based on my personal experience with microphones and recording devices over 15 years on Dragon Naturally Speaking version 3 to 12, I found the following.

A. USB MICROPHONES: give the best voice recognition. Andrea NC-181 VM USB High Fidelity Monaural USB Computer Headset (P-C1-1022300-1) is good value for money. And if you are dictating long documents or do dictation stop-n-go piecemeal then connection between microphone and computer is solid. Dragon or Plantronics USB headsets that come bundled with this program also give good (but not the best) accuracy, but lack mute and volume controls.

B. BLUETOOTH MICROPHONES: Work fairly well, but not as good as USB microphones. PLANTRONIC Calisto Headset with USB Dongle - 81493-02 is very good. The biggest handicap with wireless microphones is that connection between the microphone and the computer keeps breaking and they do not work well for piecemeal stop-n-go and dictation. Every-time you start dictating after a long pause, you have to reestablish the connection.

C. RECORDING DEVICES:Olympus WS-821 Voice Recorders with 2 GB Built-In-Memory gives excellent accuracy, comes with built in USB port and is very reasonably priced. I use the 4 GB version Olympus WS-822 GMT Voice Recorders with 4 GB Built-In-Memory.Sony ICD-MX20DR9 32MB Flash-Based Digital Voice Recorder &Sony ICD-SX712 Digital Flash Voice Recorder give good accuracy but require USB cable and software. Dragon has an iPhone Recorder app which also works very well and gives decent accuracy on iPhone 5 and you can download the sound files to the computer using bonjour on the computer. For dictation on-the-go, and later transcription on Dragon, these are the way to go.

D. SMARTPHONES AS MICROPHONES: I have not had good experience with iOS devices like iPhone or iPod touch, using as microphones, and the main problem is that their connection with computer keeps breaking off, in middle of dictation, which is very disruptive when you are dictating a long document or pause for 15-30 minutes. Getting a phone call or text in middle of dictation can be troublesome. iOS devices are probably OK for short snippets for Facebook posting, as shown in Demo, but not long document dictation. it is supposed to work with Android devices too, but I have not used it personally. Dragon Recorder app on iPhone 5 works very well as a recording device, however.

If you do a lot of dictation, particularly stop-n-go, like I do, for an hour or more every day, then consider hand-held and table USB microphones. Time wasted in putting a microphone on and off the ear and turning it on and off can add up. Instead of turning microphone on and off use "go to sleep" and "wake up" commands - much quicker.

1). TABLE MICROPHONES: SpeechWare's TableMike's 3-in-1, 6-in-1 and 9-in-1 TableMikes are absolutely phenomenal. SpeechWare 3-in1 TableMike is what I use every day and I have not had used a microphone with better speech recognition accuracy than this. For me, working handsfree increases the productivity.

2). HANDHELD MICROPHONES: Like Philips LFH3500 SpeechMike Premium with Precision Microphone and Push Button Operations and Dictaphone PowerMic II Handheld USB Dictation Microphone (Without Scanner) have good speech recognition accuracy and the advantage of adding programmable buttons for activities that you do repetitively in your work day. Philips LFH3500 SpeechMike Premium has a better speech recognition accuracy, motion sensor that mutes the microphone when you lay it flat, a trackball and the buttons can be programmed to work in multiple applications - like Excel, Quickbooks, etc. but Philips software is very buggy. PowerMic II Microphone is made by Nuance, works only with Dragon Medical, has a trackpoint (like ThinkPad), cannot be used in any other application other than Dragon Medical but needs no extra software, comes with software built-into Dagon Medical. SpeechMike LFH3500 is the other microphone I use every day.

If you are already using Dragon version 10 or 11, then stick with it because you will lose a lot of functionality in version 12 without gaining much in accuracy.

If this is the first time you are buying Dragon and you do not plan to use voice recognition for electronic medical records directly in the EMR program or on remote desktop (like LogMeIn, RDC etc.) then go for version 12. Otherwise, stick with version 10 or 11 or grab Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 11, [Old Version] at a much lesser price. Version 11 has excellent accuracy, is fairly fast, and is not buggy but does not work with Electronic Medical Records.

Of course, you can still use Dragon 12 with a recorder and the speech can be transcribed later and entered into the EMR program using cut and paste. That works or people who use an assistant to transcribe and enter data into EMR. Dragon Medical actually comes with an Autotranscribe Agent, which runs in the background and turns voice files uploaded into a folder on the computer directly into the text, unattended. If you use that great tool Autotranscribe, then you may not feel bad paying for Dragon Medical.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Preferred - Medium Box works in most electronic medical record programs and on less powerful computers but is less accurate than version 11. Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred [OLD VERSION] works in all electronic medical record programs that I know off. If not at Amazon, you can find older versions at off the beaten path retailers online, very cheaply. But if you work with electronic health record on a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you have no other option but to buy Dragon Medical Practice 1 or 2. The whole point of Dragon 12 upgrade is really to choke off the use of regular Dragon in electronic medical programs.
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on September 17, 2012
Having used Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium 12 for about a month, I must admit that I'm completely baffled. They call this an upgrade?

For starters, this version is incredibly slooooooow. And I mean slooooow. It is slow to launch, and slower to close. Recognition is even slower. The promotional material stated that it was "20% more accurate," but I have yet to discover this unique aspect of this upgrade. The previous version (11.5) is far, far superior and much faster, compared to this clunky dog. And in typical Dragon fashion, technical support is a big run around, especially when you're calling to complain about the new upgrade. No one seems to know anything.

I've found that it no longer allows me direct access to dictate my godaddy webmail; now the dictation box pops up. Not a huge deal, but annoying. There are several other applications that duplicate this process, where in the past, it was just simple dictation to various fields.

My upgrade wouldn't allow me to import my user profiles from 11.5, so I had to start from scratch with a new user profile. More time wasted.

That being said: Dragon is still the leader in speech to text technology (IMO). I'm just surprised that they released this inferior upgrade and called it an "improvement" on previous versions. Purchasers should be well advised to consider an earlier version of the program . . . at least until all of the bugs are worked out of premium 12. Until then, I'm going to dump it an re-install 11.5.

Buyer beware.

UPDATE 1/03/13:

I continue to use version 12, (I have not went back to 11.5, as I stated I would do) and I stand by my above review. Version 12 is very slow to load and often maddingly slow to close. I was hoping that consistent working with the program, including audio training, would improve accuracy. To an extent, it does, but the strange quirks of this "upgrade" just don't make any sense. Often, Dragon takes nearly a full minute to boot up, and when you perform user maintenance to your profile when closing the program, it's not uncommon for this process to take two minutes or more. I might note here that I am using Windows 7 64 bit with 8GB RAM and plenty of space on the hard drive, so there shouldn't be any space/speed issues. I think Dragon rushed this one out, and I hope they make some serious improvements with future upgrades.

UPDATE 1/06/13:

I am closing out Dragon 12, and the program is performing its 'User Profile Mainenance.' So far, it has taken over 4 minutes, and the status bar doesn't even read 50%. This is ridiculous, compared with earlier versions of the program.

On another note: those of you using Dragon for their iPhone will be pleasantly surprised that the new update they released just a few days ago does nothing but CRASH! Tried uninstalling and reinstalling the program twice; no luck. Sure, it's free, but Nuance seems to be intentionally driving away customers. There are newly-emerging companies that are competing in this field of limited players, and this loyal customer (until recently) is happy to explore other options. I now see they've lowered the price for Dragon 12 Premium (again), so maybe they figured out that their most recent releases weren't quite ready for prime time. Do yourself a favor and pick up vers. 11.5. I've learned my lesson, and am dumping 12 in favor of an older, better version. And I mean it, this time.

UPDATE 2/06/13:

As suspected, 11.5 (the previous version) is an upgrade from their "upgrade." Much faster to load and close, speech recognition is (IMO) better than 12. I can't wait for their customer service folks to call me with a 'special deal' when they release their next upgrade. I will demand a refund for vers. 12 before I purchase their latest "upgrade."

One other note that I would add to those considering purchasing vers. 12: When you are dictating in a text box (as I had to do for my e-mail when using vers. 12), there is a good chance that you will LOSE what you are dictating if you do not transfer your paragraphs piece by piece. Numerous times, I'd compose lengthy emails, transfer them, only to have them vanish. VERY FRUSTRATING AND A WASTE OF OUR TIME, NUANCE. When I went back to vers. 11.5, it allows me to dictate directly to the compose window. Much more efficient.

On a positive note: Dragon recently updated their iPhone app, and (surprise!) this one actually WORKS!

UPDATE 2/1/16

STAY AWAY. STAY COMPLETELY AWAY FROM DRAGON. Although speech-to-text is wonderful technology, my experience with Dragon has been miserable, ever since my 'upgrade' to 12. My most recent venture was an upgrade to a new Dell computer with Windows 10. Dragon crashes within the first few minutes after bootup, every time. On my desktop computer, I play 'Dragon Bingo,' as I don't know what program it's going to decide to be incompatible with. Sometimes it works with Word, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it works with WordPerfect, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it works with Libre Office, sometimes it doesn't. After all these years, Dragon should just hang it up. The speech to text program that comes with Windows is, at the very least, solid. Before spending the money on Dragon, you should really ask yourself: "Do I enjoy sharp, heavy objects rammed into my ears at high speed?" Because that's what it's going to feel like after you install this program. I might add that their 12.5 'disservice pack' as I call it will cause your hard drive to projectile vomit. STAY AWAY.
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on August 27, 2012
I have been testing speech recognition on the PC for some years. Yes, I remember spending ages training software to my voice and still ending up with a system that made constant errors. By contrast, the current Dragon (and to be fair version 11 and 11.5 as well) are superb. Setup takes only a few minutes, and provided you have a good microphone and a quiet environment it makes few mistakes. In fact, I am dictating this review in Dragon 12 and so far it is perfect.

If Dragon does need correction, and there always will be corrections either because of ambiguous words or simply because you make a mistake, the correction box is also very good.

Fundamentally then, this is excellent software and I do not know of anything better for windows. However I did find a few annoyances. First, I could not get good results from the supplied headset. Dragon's own software reported the microphone either as failed or just acceptable. For my test, I went back to an older Plantronics headset that came with an earlier version of Dragon.

Another thing I found annoying is that just occasionally Dragon pauses for a significant time while parsing your speech.

There are a couple of other things for which I do not blame Dragon. One is that it only partially works with Windows 8; that is, it is fine for standard Windows desktop software but does not seem to work in the new "Metro" environment. Second, the Dragon add-in causes Word 2013 preview to crash. That is understandable since Windows 8 is only just finished and Office 2013 is unfinished; but worth noting if either of these is important to you.

Another question is whether it is worth upgrading. My view is that the upgrade from 11 is probably worth it, but from 11.5 hard to justify unless you need one of the new features.

Disclosure: I am a professional writer and was sent this for review.
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on April 9, 2014
I've been using Dragon NaturallySpeaking since version 3. Many people try this program and almost immediately stop using it. when I first began using it years ago I did the same thing. I would put it on my computer system, go through a lengthy "training" process to teach it how I speak. The training process teaches it how you pronounce different words and it used to take about an hour. While there is still a training period it now takes roughly 5 min. in the past even after training the program to recognize your voice through that hour-long process it would still make many mistakes. And like most people I just got frustrated and uninstalled it.

If I gave this five stars you know there has to be a bright side coming. :-)

One day, back in version 3, I decided I was going to use it no matter what. And I'm glad I did. What frustrates people the most about using voice dictation software is that it's not 100% correct all the time. Now a big "however". However, when the program makes a mistake (and it holds true right up to the newest version) instead of getting frustrated all you have to do is correct the mistake. Teach the program what you wanted it to type as opposed to what it did. Once you do that it usually doesn't make the same mistake again. As an example, I have a medical condition called Ménière's disease. I guarantee you the word Ménière's is not in any standard dictionary that computer uses. So the very first time I was dictating a letter and said the word Ménière's the computer typed the words "many ears". Coincidently, Ménière's disease does happen to be a problem with the inner ear but the term many ears isn't certainly what I was looking for.

To correct the error went like this: say to the computer "select many ears", then say "spell that" and a dialog box pops up and all you do is speak into the microphone and spell the word correctly. In my case it was to say "cap m e n i e r e ' s", say the words "click train" and the computer automatically clicks a button labeled train and then you speak the word that you just spelled and it enters it into its dictionary. And it will then replace the incorrect spelling with the correct one automatically and you can continue dictating.

When people read this in the manual that is usually what deters them from using the program. I like everyone else thought I was going to be spending all my time saying that entire paragraph to correct a word. Also like everyone else I thought I didn't have the time. The thing is, to actually perform the actions that I described in the previous paragraph actually takes less than 15 seconds and once you do but you don't have to do it ever again.

I have created a website dedicated to information on Ménière's disease so the term Ménière's came up constantly. After the first time it made the mistake of spelling Ménière's as many ears it never made the mistake again. Being a website dedicated to a rare medical condition I used the term Ménière's probably 100 to 120 times. Like I said, after correcting it the first time it never made the mistake of misspelling Ménière's again. In this review alone I've used the word Ménière's at least 6 to 8 times. This review is being dictated through Dragon NaturallySpeaking. If you do see a mistake in any of the words in this review it's due to my laziness, not the program. I say that because besides just speaking into a microphone and watching the words appear on screen you can even use the program in another way to check what you've written (or what it's written).

Both the premium and the home versions of this program have the ability to read what has been typed out loud. The only reason I'm not doing it is because I'm starting to run late for an appointment and lost track of time. So there isn't time to have it read the entire review back to me and listen for errors. But once more, if you read this back to me and there was an error all he would have to do is go back and correct it and it wouldn't happen again.

When I started using this program it was for work purposes but I didn't think much of it when I stopped using it because I typed 111 words per minute accurately. What can I say, I did a lot of typing so my speed just naturally built up. Another however coming. However, now I have osteoarthritis and not only do I type very slowly but it's very painful. Using NaturallySpeaking once I start the program I don't have to touch the keyboard. It even has an entire set of commands for several of the most common web browsers so you can use it to surf the Internet as well. And that is also in either the Home or Premium versions of this program. As of today (April 9, 2014) Amazon is selling the previous version (11) for an extremely reduced price. While I purchased the Premium 12 version for a few extra features I found I really don't use them so I went back and purchased two copies of version 11 (I have multiple computers). As THE final note, which ever version of the program you by, it also comes with a plug-in headset. I didn't feel like sitting a few feet from my computer – which is the length of the cable to the headset – so I simply purchased a wireless one for $20. But you do have everything you need to get started right out of the box.

Would I recommend it? I own four copies… you guess…
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on October 18, 2012
I purchased DragonSpeak for the sole reason that it advertised v12 as Bluetooth compatible. I wear a bluetooth headset many hours a day and find it a comfortable way to communicate. I do not find the wired headsets similarly innocuous. Can't stand them.

After setting up DragonSpeak imagine my dismay when, after 45 minutes on the phone with customer service, I learned there is ONLY ONE commercially available bluetooth headset that is compatible with DragonSpeak. That ONE headset is the Plantronics Calisto. The USB dongle from Plantronics, it turns out, is required, too. A generic bluetooth dongle will not be recognized by DragonSpeak, making this $130 item an undisclosed necessary purchase to bring about the advertised capability of "bluetooth compatible".

Obviously, this is a blatantly deceptive claim.
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on September 24, 2013
Started using Dragon over 10 years ago when as a court stenographer I needed a method to help with my typing. It took time to train the software and it worked pretty good. Over the years I upgraded to Dragon Level 10 and it had improved significantly. I bought the 12 Premium and it was not an improvement in my view, and recently purchased the 12 Professional and it still does not meet my standards. Simple words continue to be a problem when you dictate an, you get and, dictate on and you one, and on and on and on. I wonder how it operates with those who are neither as articulate nor enunciate clearly? Dragon gets away with it madness because it's the only "club" in town, but its customer service really suffers because there is none and companies that depend upon computers to interact with human beings as their only line of resolving problems with their product will eventually fail. Dragon sucks every penny it can from its consumers by charging outrageous fees for live tech help when the "free" time ends (and that's when the system fails due to some software problem). Those who are physically challenged cannot find an alternative source, and I pray one will arise soon.
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on November 25, 2013
I did not realize how much faster modern transcription is than typing. I previously had used a prior version of Dragon (v7, I think) on a slower machine (1.5 GHz processor with 2 GB RAM) with poor results, as Dragon had trouble keeping up with my dictation, leading to multiple dropped words and transcription errors. But when I updated to Dragon 12 with a faster computer (2.5 GHz with 4 GB), the results were far superior. After a few training sessions, Dragon 12 is clearly faster even than my good typing (I type 70-75 words per minute).

The headset that is included is decent and worked better than my bluetooth headset, but I would recommend the KOSS CS-100 headset for greater accuracy.

Also, I am using Dragon 12 to dictate medical files and have only infrequently had to spell or edit terms. The native dictionary includes an impressive medical vocabulary including terms like "pheochromocytoma" and "metanephrines." I was afraid I would have to consider the Dragon Medical app (which is WAY more expensive) but clearly will not need to do so now.

I am VERY HAPPY with this purchase!
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on July 3, 2014
Summary: Great recognition accuracy if you get past the installation troubles, find a headset that works and train the software well. It is very good when you need a lot of technical or custom vocabulary. The software itself is horribly unstable and clunky, crashes too often. For casual texts such as regular emails or office text, the voice recognition that comes inbuilt with Android smartphones is way superior for the English language - it comes free (look for the microphone symbol on your onscreen keyboard), doesn't require training and is amazingly accurate for standard texts without special vocabulary. I use that for emails.

In Detail:

I am using the software on windows 7 (64 bit). After putting in some effort into the initial training, the voice recognition engine works very well and I'm very happy with and positively surprised about the accuracy. The premium version has the advantage that custom words can be imported, which is convenient if you have a lot of custom vocabulary such as field names in a database.

In regards to the recognition quality a couple of things turned out to be helpful: I tried a Logitech USB headset as well as a Plantronics 300 desktop microphone which Dragon both declined to use (insufficient voice quality). Finally I had more luck using a Plantronics Bluetooth headset with noise cancellation that I usually use with my cell phone.

When I created my first user profile and started dictating, Dragon would not understand some common commands however hard I tried, which was very frustrating at first. At some point I simply deleted the profile and started from scratch, this time spending more time training the software to my voice. Besides the quick start training I read out an additional half hour of training text and also let it learn my writing style and vocabulary from my sent emails. After this it became very usable and the recognition accuracy now is great.

However, the software has major drawbacks: the installation is a pain and during use Dragon is unstable and tends to crash occasionally. The usability in this regard is horrible and if I had found any feasible competitor for a Windows system, I would not be using Dragon. It is really that annoying.

Installation: the installation process crashed, until I found the reasons by lenghty googling. Firstly, Data Execution Prevention had to be disabled for Dragon and its installer. Having Windows 7 on the market for so many years and this still being an issue for Dragon is surprising to me. Secondly, I had to disable User Account Control completely for the installation to succeed, afterwards I could re-enable it. Seriously?

Training: the Dragon Dictation explicitly says it supports Windows Live Mail to train a user profile with one's sent emails, so I downloaded all my email via IMAP from the server into the current version of WLM. However no matter what I tried,Dragon crashed during the training process without giving any error or reason.Subsequently I tried it with Outlook 2010, which is supposedly supported by Dragon as well. It crashed here too !! Maybe it couldn't handle the fact that I was using three different email accounts, who knows. I resolved that after several hours of trying by copying my email from the three different (completely downloaded) sent folders in my IMAP accounts over into the one main Sent folder Outlooks has locally. It seems the software can only handle use scenarios from 1995.

Daily use: while it is possible to directly dictate into Microsoft Word, with any other unsupported software a pop-up window comes up into which the text is dictated first (Dragon's "dictation box"). Only when the transfer button is clicked, the text gets inserted into the current cursor position. Most software I'm using is unsupported, so I have to deal with this dictation box most of the time.

The dictation box is unstable and crashes too frequently for my liking. After having dictated a couple of paragraphs it occasionally crashes and with this it loses any dictated work that had not been transferred to the application. So I am trying to remember to transfer my dictated text every one or two paragraphs. These crashes are a big issue for me.

After installation the default setting is that text will not be kept in the clipboard when one clicks the "Transfer" button. If the insertion process in the the application of use fails, the dictated text is lost as well. At least this can be prevented by selecting an option to keep transferred text in the clipboard after the dictation box is closed, But I only found out after googling around for a while.

To sum it up: With some effort into the training, the voice recognition is superb. The software itself is buggy, sluggish, and loses dictated work in its regular crashes. The installation process requires sophisticated IT skills and plenty of googling to succeed. If I could avoid the software, I definitely would.

For casual use such as emailing or writing simple text, the voice-recognition inbuilt into Android phones is much easier to use, doesn't crash, comes free and works very very well - without training. If you need a lot of custom vocabulary or deal with technical texts on Windows, I - unfortunately - haven't found any alternative to Dragon.
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on January 5, 2013
I received this as a Christmas gift and installed it the next day. I was not able to get the mike and headset to work and kept receiving error messages of incompatability with my computer. I have Windows 7 and have had no other compatability issues with other software. After multiple calls to Tech Support, they were never able to resove this. I was told they were aware of incompatability issues with some sound cards. Over all,I spent about 6 hours on the phone with them. Although I was told a supervisor would review all my calls to make appropriate recomendations to resolve this, it was never done. I was told I would receive a new headphone/mike set in 3 to 4 days but that never happend. As a result I returnd this product.

FYI, as a further insult, althougth they have a toll free number for Customer Support, the Tech Support line is not toll free. Also, Tech Support is only free for 90 days. If you call the Customer Support line and ask to be connected to Tech Support , some of the time they will, but at others they will tell you they do not have the ability to do so. Very poor cumstomer relations. I would never recomend this product or company.
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on August 24, 2013
I have been reading about Dragon Naturally Speaking software for some years now, but have been reluctant to take the plunge primarily because of the seemingly large number of negative reviews surrounding it. I recently convinced myself, however, to just go ahead and try it out and see what MY opinion of it would be.

It's been kind of a complicated road but, in the end, has finally worked out well. First, I made the mistake of ordering the software directly off of the Nuance site since it appeared that I would be saving $30 by doing so. From the description on the Nuance site, it appeared that there would be a headset included with the purchase. Not being a terribly bright fellow, I bought it only to discover that (1) it was for a download only and that (2) no mic-headset was included. It took quite a while to initially download the program and there was a lot of futzing about getting it installed; not very smooth at all. But eventually, I got it to work. Since I didn't have a headset-mic or even a stand-alone mic to use, I simply used my webcam mic. That worked okay, but while the results were very surprisingly good, there were a number of mistakes which was well short of the advertised 99% accuracy mark. I accepted this since I was using a mic that was not really intended for this kind of situation. Now here's the level of my stupidity: I kept thinking that the headset (which, as previously mentioned was described as being included) would be shipped to me. I saw nothing to indicate that this was indeed the case so I emailed Nuance customer support for the answer to which they responded back to me in about 2 days. A number to call was provided to me to call. I was told by Nuance CS that no headset was in fact included. I asked for a refund, deciding to re-order using Amazon instead. This is what I should have done in the first place. Getting the refund has been a far more lengthy wait than seems necessary. When I ordered DNS through Amazon. I also ordered the Andrew NC-181VM USB mic-headset since these received generally high praise from a number of reviewers for use with DNS (see my separate review on these).

Now, after that lengthy spiel, on to Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 12: In a word, Amazing! This is the stuff of sci-fi made real. Coupled with the Andrea headset, and after doing only the preliminary training, DNS worked almost flawlessly right out of the box. I haven't yet (and probably never will) "scientifically" assessed the actual accuracy of DNS, but if it isn't the advertised 99%, it's pretty darn close. That's been my experience so far, at least. I still have a lot to learn and remember about some of the voice commands that you can use, and especially some it's more esoteric abilities as far as controlling programs and such, but so far I'm completely impressed with what DNS can do. I was concerned because of the several negative reviews about Premium 12 being less than some previous version or another. I honestly can't address that and, quite frankly, it's now become completely irrelevant to me since Premium 12 has met and exceeded any expectations I had of it. It just flat works and it works amazingly well. If some previous version somehow worked better for some other person for whatever reason, more power to them. My only objection to some of those opinions is when they attempt to prevent the purchase of Premium 12 based on their objections. I think it is perfectly acceptable to state one's own experiences and biases about a product, but quite another to block the purchase of that product or tool that I believe many others if not most would find perfectly acceptable and useful without having to resort to some outdated and perhaps less supported version of the product. I'm all for fair and reasonable criticism of a product, but some sense of reality needs to enter into our opinions.

Which brings me to my criticisms of Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 12. DNS is not without it's flaws. The installation process, even with the CD was somewhat on the kludgy side. First, it was on the lengthy side, but that is okay with me, except that during this lengthy installation process I received at some point mid-way through installation some kind of error message that I didn't understand that seemed to indicate there was some kind of installation failure and told me something had not completed successfully. I thought "Oh, great....Now I've got either buggy software or I'm going to have to try to start over again". But once I clicked the error message off, installation proceeded on happily and finally finished. And then, of course there was the whole registration process to go through (actually, I had to enter the same information--serial #, etc--at least twice) before I could actually start using it and tackle the preliminary voice training sessions. Since there was that installation hiccup along the way, I thought that something was surely going to prevent the program from running or cause some other bump along the road, but it hasn't happened yet, so I guess all is well in spite of the nagging feeling that something might be "missing" that needs to be there. In spite of the lengthy and somewhat convoluted installation process, I can still easily justify the 5 Stars I have given it. In the big picture of the world of software, this has to be one of the giants along with being, perhaps, even a potentially life-changing tool for many people for many reasons.

All I really know and really care about now, however, that DNS Premium 12 is running and seems to be running flawlessly. The amazing thing about this incredible tool is that it "tracks" very rapidly. I'm a pretty fast typist and I initially thought that I could probably type faster than what DNS could keep up with. Not so. I can start blabbering at a pretty good clip and DNS seems to hang right in there with me, even though I have to pause my flow to insert the punctuation, etc as I rattle on. The main "catch" here is that you have to have your thoughts pretty much under your belt already before speaking. If you are halting and stopping and kind of fumbling around as you speak, DNS doesn't handle that all that well. That is one advantage of typing; you can pause and think about what you want to say at any point in the flow without everything getting all hung up and bumfuzzled. With DNS, you will find yourself doing more corrections if that is the case.

I really don't know how many people out there might actually "need" Dragon Naturally Speaking. I think if you are a troubled or slow typist, this would be an absolute boon to you. If you are a lousy speller, DNS handles spelling corrections extremely well, usually on the fly. I am neither of these things; I am both a fast typist and a pretty good speller most of the time. Nevertheless, I still find DNS an incredible tool. I must say that it may take me a while to find ways for me to use it and truly justify it's purchase. But being the geek that I am, I will do my best to find a way to put it to good use. So, for right now, I stand extremely impressed with what I regard as among the more useful innovations in the software realm. Just as an aside: before investing in DNS, I did try out the built-in Speech Recognition feature of Windows 7. It works fairly well and is impressive to a degree in it's own right. In my opinion, however, it doesn't hold a candle to DNS and quite frankly, suffers from too many weaknesses that would render it too frustrating for me to use for most purposes. It just doesn't offer nearly the accuracy or sophistication of DNS.

In conclusion, I can highly recommend Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 12 to anyone seriously interested in getting their feet wet using speech to text translation. I hope you will find it as amazing as I have.
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